Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 9 – The Prophets and Writings
[Bible references: 1 Samuel 9-10; 13:8-14; 2 Samuel 12; Jeremiah 2:28]
During the entire time when Israel had kings, it also had prophets. Some prophets like and Elijah and Elisha did not leave any writings, although sixteen prophets did. The prophets focused more on “forth-telling” (telling about changes that the kings and/or the people needed to make immediately) than “fore-telling” (telling about some future events) and were a constant reminder that God was acting in ways that transcended the earthly kingdom. Sometimes the prophets were there to encourage and sometimes to challenge the kings: The prophet Samuel was used to anoint Saul as king, then later had to let Saul know that God had rejected him. Samuel was also used to anoint David as king. Later, the prophet Nathan was used to let David know that God was aware of David’s sin with Bathsheba.
When we look at Jesus’ life and ministry, we see that he is uncompromisingly prophetic in a whole host of ways:
- He is the revelation of the Father: he perfectly shows us what God is like.
- He is the Word of God in flesh.
- He is the mediator of the New Covenant between God and people.
- He confronts evil and breaks the power of sin.
- He calls people to return to God and live righteously.
- He speaks truth to power (both religious and secular).
- He only does what he sees the Father doing.
- He is led by the Spirit and ministers in the power of the Spirit.
- He prioritizes prayer and worship.
- He speaks prophetically of the future.
- He discerns the hearts and minds of people.
- He challenges injustice and unrighteousness.
Jesus is the perfect expression of the prophet and so gives us the blueprint for a mature, holistic, multi-faceted way of being the prophetic church. We need to be prophetic in the way that Jesus was prophetic. Not just as individuals but as a Body with a collective prophetic consciousness.
The Prophets of the Old Testament were precursors of the prophetic ministry of Jesus. And now the Church, as the Body of Christ, has the privilege of carrying on that ministry.
[Bible references: Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 2 Chronicles 29:6; Isaiah 1; 56:1; Jeremiah 5:31; 28; Hosea 1:2; Amos 9:1-15; Zechariah 7]
Sometimes the prophet’s warnings would be not just for the kings but for everyone in the kingdom. The messages from the prophets often mixed the foretelling of the consequences for rejecting God with the hope that God will someday make things right. The most common offense cited by the prophets was the people’s lack of justice and the uselessness of their ritual sacrifices if justice was ignored. There were also diatribes against false prophets and against making idols. The most common metaphor used to describe Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and his commands was prostitution, even to the point where one prophet, Hosea, was told to marry an adulterous woman to be a visible reminder for Israel.
Lament and Anger
[Bible references: Lamentations; Genesis 15:12-15; Isaiah 10:5-11; 13:1-22; 15-1622:19; Micah 5:14]
God’s response through the prophets was to lament. There is even one entire book lamenting what happened to Israel. The lamenting would include calls for Israel to repent and turn back to God. The pleas for repentance would then be followed by God’s anger and God’s promise to root out, pull down and destroy Israel or any other nation around Israel that was involved in sin. Sometimes God used other nations to discipline Israel but that was usually followed with threats to those same nations for their own behavior.
[Bible references: Jeremiah 29:11; Jonah]
But in the end was God’s promise to restore his kingdom and bless all those who repent. One prophet was even sent to a Gentile nation to call them to repent or be destroyed. When they did repent, God held back his punishment – although history tells us that they would go back to their old ways, and they would eventually be destroyed.
 Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
 Accessible Prophecy, “Understanding the Prophetic Function” /
 Ex: Prophecy against Assyria (Isaiah 10:5-11), Babylon (Isaiah 13,), Moab (Isaiah 15-16) and others
Messengers of a greater power
Based on what we know about the role of prophets, how should today’s churches carry out the prophetic function within our church or within our surrounding culture?
Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; 2 Corinthians 4:1-12. The Church is the visible representation of the Body of Christ, as such one of the Church’s prophetic functions is to reveal God to the world. How can we do that?
Israel’s unfaithfulness to God was often referred to as prostitution. Does this help put your own unfaithfulness to God in perspective?
Read Zechariah 7. What words of warning are given to the people who were not faithful to God?
Lament and anger
How does knowing God’s attitude towards sin affect our attitudes?
Read Isaiah 10:5-11. Here, God is chastising a “godless” nation, Assyria, which He used to discipline His own chosen nation, Israel, which had also behaving godlessly. Both nations will suffer the anger of God. Both nations are used to carry out His will. What is the warning and hope in that for us?
Despite Israel’s constant failure, God’s plan was to discipline, not destroy, them. Their discipline would eventually be followed by God’s plan to provide the Messiah, the Savior of the world. What might that mean about God’s plan for you?
Read Jonah 1-4. Assyria was a fierce nation that was severely violent in its conquering of other nations. Yet, God saw fit to use Jonah to call the city of Nineveh to repentance and then held back his threatened destruction when they responded in repentance. How do you respond to this act of mercy?